Chicago Bulls College Prep is using discussion-based instruction to achieve their amazing 100% college acceptance rate. This week, Andrew and I had the privilege of observing Ms. Cheng and her 9th grade math students in action. We were astonished at the level of student engagement and the immense benefits of their discussion-based class: it’s student centered, provokes deep thought, allows for conceptual understanding, and keeps kids asking “why?”.
It looked like Classkick didn’t have anything to offer students and teachers in such a high performing environment. But after talking to Ms. Cheng, it was clear that Classkick could support her classroom in three ways:
(1) Preparation: A truly discussion-based class uses homework as prep work, but some students simply need more assistance in completing their homework. Classkick supports independent prep by allowing instantaneous teacher (or peer — see #3 below!) feedback for students working on iPads prior to coming to a class discussion.
(2) Practice: For students that need additional background knowledge, Ms. Cheng supplements discussion by giving them “the last 20 minutes of class to practice whatever we taught that day, during which we closely monitor their work and correct any misconceptions on the spot”. In this way, Classkick can supplement deeper conceptual thinking with a platform for skills practice and drilling.
(3) Peer Engagement: Ms. Cheng uses small groups to keep students engaged. She explains that “students are usually sent back into small groups if after a few prompts from peers they are still unable to explain their work. This holds students accountable for coming up with answers that are 100% complete.” Good thing Classkick allows students to ask and answer questions from each other — fostering a group learning community in the classroom or remotely!